> Volume 6 > Number 22


André Téchiné

Emmanuelle Béart
Gaspard Ulliel
Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet
Clémence Meyer

Release: 14 May 2004



André Téchiné, one of the most resourceful filmmakers working today, has the ability to make audiences forget everything that doesn’t directly affect the story at hand. Never is this more visible than in Strayed, his wartime idyll that provokes the audience to loosen up to his story as his characters loosen to his tranquil setting.

Coming soon after Jean-Paul Rappaneau regressive Bon Voyage, a French World War II film that could have seriously harmed the French film industry if not for its disastrous reception, this attempt to deal with the French plight during the war is more articulate, more precise. The social order is shaken, much like in Bon Voyage, but Téchiné’s characters are more than just broad caricatures for the whims of the director. The four people at the center of Strayed are amazingly human, their pain and anguish understood long before they begin to talk about it.

I credit Téchiné for knowing how to establish his story of surviving the war, opening the film on newsreel that disturbs before his first frame of original work. But he’s not one to ask for easy emotions like sadness, ecstasy, and lust (although all, in different forms, converge on the characters). Téchiné’s modus operandi is one of seeming tranquility in a time of deep destruction. The opening scenes are set around German planes shooting the Paris citizens attempting to move south -- but this is far from representative of what Strayed ultimately offers. Instead, this is mainly about people coexisting in a place so peaceful that time seems to have stood still. Their bumbling attempts at redefining their lives in a time of great sorrow isn’t without setbacks, but they feel earned, punishment for their willingness to hide away from a war that is tearing their country apart and for taking in a bourgeois life they might not warrant. It is a slow film, but one with shocks that cannot be overlooked, none more so than learning at the conclusion how long they’ve been together.

Terrence Malick did something similar with The Thin Red Line, letting his setting speak as much for the war effort as the people embroiled in it. Even if Strayed never reaches the levels of Malick’s tour-de-force work (perhaps the greatest war film ever made), it has something to say about the tangential figures in the war: the women, children, and enfants terrible who must travel the beautiful countryside to find the last life in the universe

©2004, David Perry,, 28 May 2004